Poland may supply Ukraine with MiG-29 fighter jets for four to six weeks if a coalition of allies signs the plan, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday.
Morawiecki said last week that Poland is ready to provide Soviet-designed MiG-29 jets to Ukraine as part of a coalition of countries. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged allies to hand over the jets, and Morawiecki supported the plan. The US and other Western countries refused, suggesting that such a move would escalate the war.
Poland’s military has about 28 of the jets, but the prime minister did not say how many he wants to give to Ukraine. Slovakia says it is considering transferring 10 of its 11 MiG-29 jets; the latter will go to a museum.
Ukrainian pilots already fly MiG-29 fighters, so little or no additional training will be required.
‘THIS IS INHUMAN’:Poland, Slovakia ready to send fighter jets to Kyiv. Updates
►Russian President Vladimir Putin cast the war on Ukraine, a smaller country that posed no threat before invading, as “the task of Russian state security” in a speech at a helicopter factory.
►The shortage of artillery ammunition likely prompted Russia to issue “old stocks of ammunition previously categorized as unfit for use,” the The British Defense Ministry said.
►A Russian missile hit an apartment building in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, killing at least one person and injuring nine in one of Ukraine’s main city strongholds in its Donetsk province.
►The Russian soccer team, banned from European and FIFA competitions, was invited to participate in the first-ever Central Asian Football Association Championships in June along with Afghanistan, Iran and former Soviet republics Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan.
MERCENARY RECRUITING:The Wagner Group of Russia is looking for recruits in high schools; Moscow wants to renew grain deal for shorter term: Live updates on Ukraine
Collision with Russian fighter jet causes US drone to crash in Black Sea
An “unsafe and unprofessional interception” by a Russian fighter jet was the cause a collision with an Air Force surveillance drone that sent it crashing into the Black Sea on Tuesday morning, the US military said.
The incident occurred when two Russian SU-27 fighters intercepted the MQ-9 Reaper drone and one of them cut off the drone’s propeller, showing the pilot’s “incompetence”, according to a statement from the US European Command . US operators were forced to land the drone in international waters.
“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” Air Force Gen. James Hecker, commander, US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said in a statement. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional action by the Russians almost caused the downing of both aircraft.”
At a time of heightened tensions between the US and Russia over the war in Ukraine, these types of encounters are “dangerous and can lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation,” the statement said.
— Tom Vanden Brook
Ukraine remains committed to the defense of Bakhmut
Just last week, when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy decided to send reinforcements to Bakhmut after meeting with his top military leaders, the Ukrainian president is sticking to the plan to continue defending the embattled eastern city despite of relentless Russian attacks.
There were reports that the Ukrainians were considering a strategic retreat before Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander in chief of the armed forces, and fellow generals advised Zelenskyy to stay the course because of the large numbers of personnel and equipment that their forces are taking on the Russians.
The strategy remained in place after Zelenskyy spoke on Tuesday with Zaluzhny and other military leaders.
“After reviewing the course of the defense operation in the Bakhmut sector, all staff members expressed a common position on the further holding and defense of the city of Bakhmut,” Zelenskyy’s office said in a statement.
Bakhmut, now mostly empty and devoid of residents, is surrounded on three sides by Russian forces reinforced by mercenaries from the Wagner Group. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said its value was mostly symbolic, but Zaluzhnyi said the defense of Bakhmut had “significant strategic importance.”
“This is key for the stability of the defense of the entire front line,” he said.
Questions, pessimism about Ukraine’s ability to trigger an offensive in the spring
Widespread casualties and ammunition shortages have raised questions and a sense of pessimism about Ukraine’s ability to launch a spring offensive to retake territory illegally annexed by Russia, the The Washington Post reported.
Russian casualties — personnel killed or incapacitated by wounds — totaled about 200,000, more than about 120,000 for Ukraine, according to officials cited by the newspaper. But Ukraine’s population of 43 million before the war is less than one-third 141 million of Russiaa definite disadvantage.
And like its occupiers, Ukraine lost many of its most experienced soldiers during the year-long conflict, weakening its capabilities and forcing it to rely on inexperienced conscripts.
“The most important thing in war is combat experience,” a battalion commander identified only as Kupol told the Post. “… And there were only a few soldiers with combat experience. Unfortunately, they were all dead or wounded.”
Russian soldiers are accused of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl
Ukraine has accused two Russian soldiers of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl and raping her mother in front of her father, Reuters reported, citing Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office. The attack was one of a series of sexual crimes allegedly committed by six Russian soldiers from the 15th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade at four houses in the Brovary District near Kyiv in March 2022.
The Prosecutor General’s Office is investigating more than 71,000 war crimes allegedly committed by Russian soldiers.
DeSantis dismissed the war as a ‘territorial dispute’ between Ukraine and Russia
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisexpected to enter the race for the GOP presidential nomination, told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that helping Ukraine is not a vital interest for the United States.
“While the US has many important national interests – securing our borders, addressing the readiness crisis within our military, achieving energy security and independence and checking the economic, cultural and military power of Chinese Communist Party – which has become increasingly embroiled in a territorial dispute. between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” DeSantis wrote in response to a Fox News questionnaire shared by Carlson on Twitter.
President Joe Biden has pledged to support Ukraine “as long as necessary” — a position DeSantis criticized for lacking defined goals.
– Sarah Elbeshbishi
Russia toughens punishment for destroying warlords
Russia’s parliament has adopted amendments to Russia’s Criminal Code that provide for harsher penalties for “discrediting participants” in the war. The punishment could include up to 15 years in prison, including five years of forced labor or seven for repeated offenses that put Russians at risk. Fines can reach nearly $70,000.
The Institute for the Study of War says the Kremlin could use the amendments to promote self-censorship of military bloggers, especially those who vent “beyond the Kremlin’s tolerance for open criticism.”
Contributor: The Associated Press